Things have changed in the past several months. The return to school this fall is going to look very different. One thing has not changed; students need to be immunized. Immunizations remain the single most effective way to protect Mainers against many diseases and some cancers. August in National Immunization Awareness Month, and we need to work together to reinforce the importance with our staff, students, parents, and communities. The National Association of School Nurses has many resources on influenza vaccine that can be used by school nurses and other staff to promote immunization as a public health strategy for prevention.
One of the measures to assist us in getting children back to school right now is to prevent illness. With cold and flu season approaching, schools will find it even more difficult to differentiate symptoms of COVID-19 from other common illnesses. For this reason, it is even more important to encourage all our families and staff to be fully immunized against the diseases preventable by vaccine that are required for school entry, as well as seasonal influenza.
We are encouraging all Maine SAUs to host vaccine clinics to increase influenza vaccination rates for Maine. Schools can do this as a standalone entity or in partnership with local medical providers and the School Located Vaccine Clinic Toolkit can assist you in the process. The Maine Immunization Program in partnership with Public Health Nursing is hosting clinics right now to help kids get caught up on those routine vaccinations that might have been missed due to the pandemic. Information about these appointment-only clinics can be found here. Please feel free to share this with your families.
For more information, contact the School Nurse Consultant at Emily.Poland@maine.gov.